a critiQal film review Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1999)

Plot: Eddie (Moran), Tom (Fleming), Bacon (Statham) and Soap (Fletcher) have raised enough money to enter a high-stakes poker game, hosted by Hatchet Harry (Moriarty). When Eddie ends up losing big time, it’s up to the four of them to come up with 500,000 quid...in a week. Desperate, they are at a loss as to what to do...until Eddie overhears a conversation that seems to be the answer to their money problems.

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  • ...a good first effort by Jason Statham, Vinnie Jones and Guy Ritchie - and a fun lead-in to the much better Snatch.

I’d been wanting to see Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels ever since I saw Snatch a few years ago. It’s directed by the same guy, Guy Ritchie, and was supposed to be pretty good, and it also kick-started Jason Statham and Vinnie Jones’ careers (they have since gone on to star in films like The One and Gone in Sixty Seconds (2000)).

So, would this film live up to the hype I’d heard? I finally rented it and decided to check it out for myself.

The acting was decent all around. Vinnie Jones, especially, was a definite standout in the film. His low-key portrayal of the tough guy, although it may be getting a bit old (since he’s played just simple variations on the same guy since), comes off well in this film. The inclusion of a son for him was a bit interesting at first, since he’s usually the solo tough guy, but it worked decently, and didn’t impede him much. Plus, a mini Vinnie walking around added a bit to the underlying comedy of the film.

Jason Statham was definitely still developing his character for this film, and was just beginning to shine. He peaked in Snatch, and slipped a little for The One, then ended up bottoming out (hopefully) with The Transporter (2002). You could see him feeling his way along, and luckily, for the audience, did a pretty good job.

The other characters weren’t really great, but they were able to keep up their end of the deal to help the movie play through. The appearance of Sting was a bit odd at first, but he slipped into his character pretty easily, and didn’t interrupt the flow of the film.

The plot, just as in Snatch, started off simple enough, then became more and more complicated. As Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels starts, four guys have lost at cards, and need money. They hear of a way to get it, and go for it.

As the film continues, however, more and more complications arise, and more and more thugs and gangsters keep joining the fray, until it all comes to a boil. Guy Ritchie seems to have a knack for that sort of story, and the story continues to involve the viewer throughout.

Every new turn keeps the audience in the know on the whole story, while the characters are basing their actions on much less information. It’s fun to watch the characters bungle their way through the film, all the while almost knowing what will come next..but only moments before it happens. It’s got to be tough to create that type of story, because the next twist could be caught by the audience too early, and ruin the whole flow of the film.

All in all, Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels is a good first effort by Statham, Jones, and Ritchie. It sets itself up as almost a prequel to Snatch, since many of the same actors are involved in both films, although Snatch is a much better film.

If you haven’t had a chance to see either yet, be sure to see Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels first. It will make both films more enjoyable.

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